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June 26, 2006
New coach brings energy to Ohio State
After starting his own business and successfully running it for more than half a decade, it would have taken the perfect situation to entice Eric Lichter to leave his self-made position.
Then Ohio State came calling.
"Obviously I worked for myself for many years, but if you're going to go into an environment where you're going to work for someone Jim Tressel's the one to do it," Lichter told BuckeyeSports.com. "Ohio State has the number one athletes in the country. I don't know how, when you put all those things together, you can't call that a dream-job opportunity."
Lichter was named the new Director of Football Performance for the Buckeyes after former Director of Football Strength and Conditioning coach Allan Johnson resigned his post May 12. Just more than one month later, Lichter was named as his replacement.
He will lead a team that consists of two other coaches to oversee the strength and conditioning of the Buckeyes. Former speed coach Butch Reynolds has been shifted to speed coordinator, while former graduate assistant Joe Rudolph will now serve as the strength coordinator.
Lichter was named to the position after running his own private business in Cleveland for the past six years, where he trained athletes such as Troy Smith and Ted Ginn, Jr. while they were in high school.
Now the 31-year-old coach is heading two hours south to bring his expertise to the OSU coaching staff.
"I think it's the perfect job for him," said former OSU safety Nate Salley, who trained with Lichter prior to the 2006 NFL Draft. "For a lot of guys as far as having to leave to go and train, now they have him right there with them. Troy (Smith) and guys like that who are going to be leaving next year can stay and finish up with school.
"Me, I came two classes away from graduating this quarter because I went up to Cleveland to train with him. If he was there last year I could've been done. I think that will help out a lot of guys and save a lot of guys some money."
For his part, Lichter promises to bring cutting edge knowledge in strength and conditioning to the OSU campus.
"We're going to be bringing a lot of really neat things to Ohio State that a lot of other places won't have," he said. "They're not things that I think are good, they are things that are proven scientifically to enhance performance and we're going to bring them to Ohio State over the next couple years or so and we'll have them and a lot of our competition would not."
He also brings a lot of enthusiasm, according to Salley.
"He has so much energy, he makes you believe that you're going to run the time you want to be at," said former OSU safety Nate Salley, "He has so much extra energy that he brings to the situation."
Not everything has gone smoothly for Lichter during his career, however. A few days after accepting the position, reports surfaced that Lichter had unwittingly been part of a drug sting while working at a Gold's Gym in Ogden, Utah in 1998.
While working as a sales representative for the gym, Lichter delivered an envelope to an undercover policeman at the request of his manager without knowing what was inside. The envelope contained Rohypnol – commonly known as the date-rape drug – and Ritalin. His felony charge was dismissed and he pleaded guilty to possession, receiving a $1,500 fine and two years of probation.
The move to Columbus also allowed Lichter a chance to be closer to his mom, OSU synchronized swimming coach Linda Lichter-Witter, who battled cervical cancer during the 2005-06 season. While she underwent treatment, Lichter's wife Annemarie helped coach the team.
Just days after accepting the position, Lichter was on campus leading off-season workouts for the Buckeyes. He said the first day of workouts went well, which was expected, but that the second day was more telling.
"My concern was that everybody's fired up for the first day, something new, how would they respond today?" he said after the second day. "And I think we surpassed yesterday today, so that was even more encouraging."
With the chance to work at a university like Ohio State and be closer to his family, Lichter said he views the career move as the best job possible.
"I honestly wouldn't have made this move if I was going to go back into the private sector," he said. "I really hope that things work out. I'd love to be at Ohio State for the rest of my career. I want to bring a new landscape to college strength conditioning and I hope to be here forever. If this was something that was going to be temporary, I wouldn't have made the move.
"Buckeye Nation is everywhere, so the opportunity to reach and impact millions as opposed to one person or maybe 20 – that one person and their family – is exciting to me."